LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — The United States Transportation Security Administration has reached a tentative settlement in the highly publicized lawsuit filed by a mother who was allegedly harassed by TSA officers when she requested her breast milk not be x-rayed, authorities announced Tuesday.
The TSA again apologizes to Stacey Armato for the incident that took place at the Phoenix Airport on Jan. 25, 2010 and also agreed to clarify its internal procedures for screening breast milk in the tentative deal.
“We brought this lawsuit for one reason — to bring clarity and policy change for breastfeeding mothers traveling with breast milk,” Armato said. “Hopefully what I experienced at the Phoenix Airport in 2010 will never happen to another mother traveling with her breast milk.”
TSA is expected to update its public website to better guide breastfeeding mothers traveling with breast milk and train its screening officers on the new policies if the agreement is finalized.
During the 2010 incident, Armato, who travels weekly from Los Angeles to Phoenix for work, claims she was held by the TSA for over 40 minutes while they “researched” their own policy and urged her to simply dump her breast milk if she did not want it to be x-rayed.
She later lodged a complaint through the TSA website, and in response was told to print out a copy of the TSA breast milk guidelines and hand it directly to the screening officers the next time she flew.
The following week, Armato came into contact with the same officers, who refused to look at the guidelines. They then reportedly harassed her for an hour, placed her in a glass enclosure, called the Phoenix police, patted her down and finally refused to screen the milk claiming the bottles were “too full.” She subsequently missed her flight.
“I was sobbing, crying, and thinking desperately for another solution,” Armato, who later posted video from the incident on YouTube, told KCAL9’s Jeff Nguyen.
“My only options were to put it through the x-ray or put it in the trash,” she said.
The sides reached a tentative agreement last Friday.
Attorney Robert Mosier said he took the case after a number of other lawyers turned her down.
“I am so incredibly proud of Stacey Armato,” Mosier said. “To stand up like she did and take on the TSA so breastfeeding mothers would have a voice and be free from harassment took real guts and fortitude. Stacey stood up for what she believed, made the government listen and change its policies — it is a true David vs. Goliath story. It has been a difficult journey for her for well over two years.”
The TSA would not comment on the tentative settlement when contacted by KCAL9.
A spokesperson instead released the following statement: “When carrying breast milk through security checkpoints it is treated in the same manner as liquid medication.”
The government still has 30 days to file for a dismissal of the settlement, which includes $75,000.
Armato says she’ll see very little of the money, which will go towards attorney fees. She also plans to donate a portion to BreastfeedLA, a not-for-profit 501(c)3 corporation dedicated to improving the health and well being of infants and families through education, outreach, and advocacy to promote and support breastfeeding.